Age Without the Wears & (Literal) Tears!
Being in the chiropractic arena for as long as I have been, it’s safe to argue that I have quite a bias with researching as much as I may in order to avoid myself limping into an office with some kind of pain in my body that isn’t allowing me to move as I’d like.
We all know someone older who just isn’t what they were back in their hay-day or have heard comments to the tune of, “When I was your age, I was physically able to_______.” Or a similar version of “I can’t move this (particular body part) asI use to.”
With all this being said, is it possible to physically age gracefully? Or is the seemingly accepted dogma of rotting as we age just something we all have to accept as true?
I call bullshit to the latter! And here’s why:
I think everyone can agree that if you don’t bathe yourself regularly, dirt (among other things) has a high likelihood of accumulating and doing some damage to one’s hygiene or worse. Same thing can be said if you leave your house or car dirty. Also, if you don’t keep up with your car’s oil changes, tires and other misc. tuneups, it’ll most likely go downhill fast and have trouble working.
The point that I’m trying to make is that if you don’t use it (or keep up with it) you will, indeed, lose it!
What Can Help Me NOT Physically Lose it?
Functional movement consists of multi-planar/multi-joint/dynamic movements that provide better joint stability with greater range of motion (ROM) at those particular joints being worked upon. It works optimally to also build joint strength & mobility when weight is added and scaled appropriately.
And when the joints are well grounded and strengthened, the muscles/tendons extending from said joint almost always follow suit, as well.
If you look at any toddler, they are moving at full functional movement capacity every day! It’s almost impossible not to when you’re crawling, hanging, jumping, squatting and running on a daily basis. And based on evolutionary biology, a 2 year-old moves no different than a 60+ year-old should.
It’s, literally, how our bodies were made and constructed to move and be used! Evolution has obviously taken its course with the Industrial and, now, Technological Revolution, so it may be a hard pill to swallow with how our bodies were intended to be used versus what is currently mandated/asked of them for work and other demands.
But now more than ever, the older generation, and an alarmingly increasing younger crowd, seem to be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to injuries. Based on what I’ve seen with my patients, it seems due to weak joints that provide no solid foundation for the repeated & potentially over-stressed movements carried out by each individual either daily or unexpectedly.
Why is Joint Stability So Important?
The far majority of physical injuries occur at a joint, i.e. shoulder, hip, spine, knee, wrist, etc. But why are joints being picked on so much?
The simple answer is that the joint’s surrounding cartilage and ligaments just aren’t strong enough to withstand certain movements, especially unexpected and higher load stressors to those particular joint areas.
As a quick review, cartilage is elastic tissue that covers andprotects the ending of bones at the joint where the bones articulate (fit in). Ligaments are connective tissues that help connect bones.
Do you see the reoccurring theme, here? The joint is the foundation for the likelihood of injuries or degeneration yet to come OR having a much lower chance of even occurring, if at all! So whether they’re anterior/medial cruciate ligaments (ACL/MCL) or meniscus tears/strains or spinal degenerative issues, these occur due to the joint surroundings not being strong enough to withstand a particular force(s) stressed upon it at the given time of injury. The ROM is limited and not optimal. And it doesn’t have to be a traumatic force to cause it. It could be as simple as bending over to tie one’s shoe that may be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back.
And if you’ve already tried getting treatment for a joint issue, unfortunately most “experts” aren’t aware of the fact that it takes your muscles an average of 30–45 days to adapt to any kind of stress induced upon it on daily or weekly basis. However, it takes 200–230 days for one’s ligaments and cartilage to adapt to that same stress/load.
For example: When former Olympic U.S. Junior National Team coach, Christopher Sommer, trains his athletes with Olympic lifts, he’ll have those athletes do them with a prescribed weight amount for no more than 230 days. Even when these athletes are begging him to increase their weight amount, he stands his ground and tells them to continue until told otherwise.
It’s when these athletes feel these exercises are the easiest is when their cartilage and ligaments are getting stronger and building solid ground for that particular joint(s).
And when these athletes do get the green light to add more weight, they go up on average 50–100+ lbs. And the common response from these athletes is that they’re in shock with how easy it was to execute after adding the increased weight with the same workout sets and reps.
It’s almost as if this applied kinetic and neuromuscular science stuff works, no? Who’d a thunk it?!
The beauty of all this is that when one keeps up with this routine, the likelihood of degenerative injuries decreases dramatically. Keep in mind, there’s no 100% full-safe method of keeping anyone injury-free, but slight slips in a pothole or stairway step or just picking up your child or grandchild may be done without worry, ache, pain or discomfort.
My Recommendations To Physically Age While Not Showing It
The blanket response is to not only move as often as you can with a properly scaled weight-load, but move smart, as well.
The lack of knowledge behind knowing how to move optimally, especially when starting from scratch, is where many people get hurt. Common examples include Crossfit injuries we all have heard people get during their workouts. Or elderly patients who just can’t move 10–50%+ as well as they could in their prime with few to many of their body parts being compromised.
So to address this when the far majority don’t have the first clue where and how to begin, I highly suggest looking at the Gymnastic Bodies online programs. I have no affiliation with this organization, but it’s something I am currently using and believe in wholeheartedly. I’ve even taken small parts of their programs and use it with some of my own therapy treatments. In addition to their chiropractic treatment, the results my patients have seen are usually a big step in the right direction with their goals of moving more freely than when they first started their treatment with us.
A word of discretion is that this endeavor isn’t some kind of “quick-fix”. It’s the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I, personally, don’t want to wait to get hurt for me to wake up to care about any potential issue that may arise. And my hope is that some of you take this proactive (or reactive, if need be) approach with positive results after having looked into this more.
These programs are very basic and each progression level goes in baby-steps to make sure everything is addressed in accordance with building as much joint stability, strength, flexibility, stamina & injury prevention as possible. And with each level you pass, the closer you get to surprising yourself with many things you never knew you could do with your body! Each progression is coupled with a strength and mobility exercise to perform and master before moving on to the next so you and your body are better set up for success!
The creator of these programs is Christopher Sommer, whom I mentioned earlier in this article. And when the ball gets rolling with these endeavors, in addition to properly aligned body from your trustworthy chiropractor, physically aging in style will be something you’ll gladly wear on your sleeve!
“When one has the luxury of controlling it, being proactive is far easier, less stressful & less costly than being reactive.”